Rex Reed’s Take on Bette’s 10 Minute Perfomance in “Short Talks” on Broadway…

Mister D: Even though it’s only one sentence, I at least found one renowned (notorious) critic, Rex Reed, of the New York Observer who actually commented on her performance:

The best thing I saw last week had nothing to do with movies. It was Short Talks on the Universe, a Broadway benefit for Friends in Deed and the Bay Street Theatre, produced by Mike Nichols. When he asked some of the best writers in New York to write an evening of plays lasting no more than 12 minutes each, hundreds of folks packed the Eugene O’Neill two nights in a row at up to $1,000 a clip. They got their money’s worth. Two generations bonded when Angela Lansbury, a symphony in beige cashmere, and Chris O’Donnell played a once-great star and a young stagehand who meet on the empty stage of a deserted theater marked for demolition in Terrence McNally’s Ghost Light. Bette Midler brought down the house reading a comic essay by Nora Ephron on why she hates her purse.In Elaine May’s Extra, curvy movie star Ellen Barkin and scrappy Alec Baldwin were a couple of elegant strangers at a party who hated each other on sight, insulted each other all the way through cocktails, then forgot and forgave on the dance floor the minute the band launched into a Cole Porter tune. Kevin Kline and Christine Baranski literally stole the show in Steve Martin’s hip, name-dropping skit about a tired married couple in bed who torture each other with lies about their extramarital sex lives to keep each other awake all night. The weakest play was a bit that went nowhere by Jon Robin Baitz, with Matthew Broderick as a tail-swishing Devil who arrived from Hell in a puff of smoke to claim the soul of a bad producer (Tony Roberts) in the men’s room at Sardi’s. After the actors took their bows, Mr. Nichols made his curtain speech, and Candice Bergen, Richard Avedon, Diane Sawyer and others too fabled to mention led a standing ovation you could hear a block away. The miscalculated addition of three long, irrelevant Stephen Sondheim songs was generally regarded as weirdly anticlimactic. Still, it was the kind of swanky event that only happens here. With pals like these, you almost wish Mike Nichols would stop directing and just throw parties.

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